Year of publication
- Working Paper (40) (remove)
- Economic projections and rules-of-thumb for monetary policy (2008)
- Monetary policy analysts often rely on rules-of-thumb, such as the Taylor rule, to describe historical monetary policy decisions and to compare current policy to historical norms. Analysis along these lines also permits evaluation of episodes where policy may have deviated from a simple rule and examination of the reasons behind such deviations. One interesting question is whether such rules-of-thumb should draw on policymakers "forecasts of key variables such as inflation and unemployment or on observed outcomes. Importantly, deviations of the policy from the prescriptions of a Taylor rule that relies on outcomes may be due to systematic responses to information captured in policymakers" own projections. We investigate this proposition in the context of FOMC policy decisions over the past 20 years using publicly available FOMC projections from the biannual monetary policy reports to the Congress (Humphrey-Hawkins reports). Our results indicate that FOMC decisions can indeed be predominantly explained in terms of the FOMC´s own projections rather than observed outcomes. Thus, a forecast-based rule-of-thumb better characterizes FOMC decision-making. We also confirm that many of the apparent deviations of the federal funds rate from an outcome-based Taylor-style rule may be considered systematic responses to information contained in FOMC projections.
- Price stability and monetary policy effectiveness when nominal interest rates are bounded at zero (2003)
- This paper employs stochastic simulations of a small structural rational expectations model to investigate the consequences of the zero bound on nominal interest rates. We find that if the economy is subject to stochastic shocks similar in magnitude to those experienced in the U.S. over the 1980s and 1990s, the consequences of the zero bound are negligible for target inflation rates as low as 2 percent. However, the effects of the constraint are non-linear with respect to the inflation target and produce a quantitatively significant deterioration of the performance of the economy with targets between 0 and 1 percent. The variability of output increases significantly and that of inflation also rises somewhat. Also, we show that the asymmetry of the policy ineffectiveness induced by the zero bound generates a non-vertical long-run Phillips curve. Output falls increasingly short of potential with lower inflation targets.
- A small estimated Euro area model with rational expectations and nominal rigidities (2003)
- In this paper we estimate a small model of the euro area to be used as a laboratory for evaluating the performance of alternative monetary policy strategies. We start with the relationship between output and inflation and investigate the fit of the nominal wage contracting model due to Taylor (1980)and three different versions of the relative real wage contracting model proposed by Buiter and Jewitt (1981)and estimated by Fuhrer and Moore (1995a) for the United States. While Fuhrer and Moore reject the nominal contracting model in favor of the relative contracting model which induces more inflation persistence, we find that both models fit euro area data reasonably well. When considering France, Germany and Italy separately, however, we find that the nominal contracting model fits German data better, while the relative contracting model does quite well in countries which transitioned out of a high inflation regime such as France and Italy. We close the model by estimating an aggregate demand relationship and investigate the consequences of the different wage contracting specifications for the inflation-output variability tradeoff, when interest rates are set according to Taylor 's rule.
- Data uncertainty and the role of money as an information variable for monetary policy (2003)
- In this study, we perform a quantitative assessment of the role of money as an indicator variable for monetary policy in the euro area. We document the magnitude of revisions to euro area-wide data on output, prices, and money, and find that monetary aggregates have a potentially significant role in providing information about current real output. We then proceed to analyze the information content of money in a forward-looking model in which monetary policy is optimally determined subject to incomplete information about the true state of the economy. We show that monetary aggregates may have substantial information content in an environment with high variability of output measurement errors, low variability of money demand shocks, and a strong contemporaneous linkage between money demand and real output. As a practical matter, however, we conclude that money has fairly limited information content as an indicator of contemporaneous aggregate demand in the euro area.
- The performance of forecast-based monetary policy rules under model uncertainty (2003)
- We investigate the performance of forecast-based monetary policy rules using five macroeconomic models that reflect a wide range of views on aggregate dynamics. We identify the key characteristics of rules that are robust to model uncertainty: such rules respond to the one-year-ahead inflation forecast and to the current output gap and incorporate a substantial degree of policy inertia. In contrast, rules with longer forecast horizons are less robust and are prone to generating indeterminacy. Finally, we identify a robust benchmark rule that performs very well in all five models over a wide range of policy preferences.
- Monetary policy and uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate (2003)
- Inflation-targeting central banks have only imperfect knowledge about the effect of policy decisions on inflation. An important source of uncertainty is the relationship between inflation and unemployment. This paper studies the optimal monetary policy in the presence of uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate, the short-run inflation-unemployment tradeoff and the degree of inflation persistence in a simple macroeconomic model, which incorporates rational learning by the central bank as well as private sector agents. Two conflicting motives drive the optimal policy. In the static version of the model, uncertainty provides a motive for the policymaker to move more cautiously than she would if she knew the true parameters. In the dynamic version, uncertainty also motivates an element of experimentation in policy. I find that the optimal policy that balances the cautionary and activist motives typically exhibits gradualism, that is, it still remains less aggressive than a policy that disregards parameter uncertainty. Exceptions occur when uncertainty is very high and in inflation close to target. This version: December 2002
- Monetary theory and monetary policy : reflections on the development over the last 150 years [Version December 8, 2012] (2012)
- In this paper, we provide some reflections on the development of monetary theory and monetary policy over the last 150 years. Rather than presenting an encompassing overview, which would be overambitious, we simply concentrate on a few selected aspects that we view as milestones in the development of this subject. We also try to illustrate some of the interactions with the political and financial system, academic discussion and the views and actions of central banks.
- Complexity and monetary policy : [Version August 10, 2012] (2012)
- The complexity resulting from intertwined uncertainties regarding model misspecification and mismeasurement of the state of the economy defines the monetary policy landscape. Using the euro area as laboratory this paper explores the design of robust policy guides aiming to maintain stability in the economy while recognizing this complexity. We document substantial output gap mismeasurement and make use of a new model data base to capture the evolution of model specification. A simple interest rate rule is employed to interpret ECB policy since 1999. An evaluation of alternative policy rules across 11 models of the euro area confirms the fragility of policy analysis optimized for any specific model and shows the merits of model averaging in policy design. Interestingly, a simple difference rule with the same coefficients on inflation and output growth as the one used to interpret ECB policy is quite robust as long as it responds to current outcomes of these variables.
- Fiscal consolidation strategy (2012)
- In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and great recession, many countries face substantial deficits and growing debts. In the United States, federal government outlays as a ratio to GDP rose substantially from about 19.5 percent before the crisis to over 24 percent after the crisis. In this paper we consider a fiscal consolidation strategy that brings the budget to balance by gradually reducing this spending ratio over time to the level that prevailed prior to the crisis. A crucial issue is the impact of such a consolidation strategy on the economy. We use structural macroeconomic models to estimate this impact focussing primarily on a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with price and wage rigidities and adjustment costs. We separate out the impact of reductions in government purchases and transfers, and we allow for a reduction in both distortionary taxes and government debt relative to the baseline of no consolidation. According to the model simulations GDP rises in the short run upon announcement and implementation of this fiscal consolidation strategy and remains higher than the baseline in the long run. We explore the role of the mix of expenditure cuts and tax reductions as well as gradualism in achieving this policy outcome. Finally, we conduct sensitivity studies regarding the type of model used and its parameterization.
- A new comparative approach to macroeconomic modeling and policy analysis (2012)
- In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the state of macroeconomic modeling and the use of macroeconomic models in policy analysis has come under heavy criticism. Macroeconomists in academia and policy institutions have been blamed for relying too much on a particular class of macroeconomic models. This paper proposes a comparative approach to macroeconomic policy analysis that is open to competing modeling paradigms. Macroeconomic model comparison projects have helped produce some very influential insights such as the Taylor rule. However, they have been infrequent and costly, because they require the input of many teams of researchers and multiple meetings to obtain a limited set of comparative findings. This paper provides a new approach that enables individual researchers to conduct model comparisons easily, frequently, at low cost and on a large scale. Using this approach a model archive is built that includes many well-known empirically estimated models that may be used for quantitative analysis of monetary and fiscal stabilization policies. A computational platform is created that allows straightforward comparisons of models’ implications. Its application is illustrated by comparing different monetary and fiscal policies across selected models. Researchers can easily include new models in the data base and compare the effects of novel extensions to established benchmarks thereby fostering a comparative instead of insular approach to model development.